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Lyle Zapato

NSA Acknowledged Existence of Y.R. Tap

Lyle Zapato | 2014-06-10.8350 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots | Art


In 2006, I posted about the then-new CryptoKids, official propaganda mascots of the NSA. I pointed out that there was an unshown member of the CryptoKid team that the NSA refused to acknowledge: Y.R. Tap, the domestic spying fly, whose extortionist adventures I imagined in a series of web comics. But, it turns out that the NSA did show Tap, albeit through a semi-official channel.

The National Cryptologic Museum, which has close ties to the NSA (although operated via a non-profit org out of a former motel two blocks from NSA HQ), publishes a bulletin for donating members called The Link. In the Winter 2005-2006 issue (PDF), they had an article on the CryptoKids (page 15). Notice who's creeping about in the lower right:

National Cryptologic Museum's 'The Link', vol. 8, num. 4, pg. 15

Of course they don't acknowledge him in the text -- no one likes Y.R. Tap! -- but he is there. Watching. Always watching.

(That image is the first panel of my Y.R. Tap Comic #3. The page is dated "Fall 2005" but obviously it was made sometime after May 2006. I don't know if whoever put it there did so intentionally as a joke or if they just Googled "CryptoKids" and thought my site was an official organ of the NSA... It's not, by the way.)

UPDATE: ...and they've since removed the PDF. It was probably a mistake that they made the back issues freely available since they weren't linked to on the public site. I only found it by accident doing a Google image search on a Y.R. Tap panel. I just did another search to see if I could find it again and instead found this amusing appropriation in a PDF of an ESL quiz from a university in Brazil:

QUESTION 14: According to the cartoon, it is CORRECT to say that technology

A) can affect social and affective relations.
B) can help deepen social and affective relations.
C) enhances human relations and affective bonds.
D) fosters social relations at the workplace.

I'm not sure knowing the context of that panel makes question 14 easier or harder to answer.

End of post.